COVID-19: Travel Considerations and Guidance for Employers
Many employers have already restricted non-essential work-related travel at this time out of an abundance of caution. However, employees in positions in which travel is an essential function of the job may nonetheless be required to continue performing their duties. Employers in industries requiring travel may consult the CDC's Information for Travel for up-to-date guidance. Currently, only five countries are at a high or elevated risk for COVID-19, and the CDC considers the immediate health risk low for most people in the United States.
Various state-specific laws prohibit an employer from restricting an employee’s ability to travel for purely personal reasons. For example, many states (such as California and New York) prohibit an employer from restricting lawful employee activity outside the workplace and outside the scope of employment. Other laws, such as the FMLA and state equivalents, require covered employers to allow employees time off to care for sick family members – which may be the reason for an employee's travel to an area affected by COVID-19.
In addition, employers who discipline employees for travel to affected areas may also risk exposure to claims of discrimination on the basis of race, national origin or association with a person with a disability as defined by applicable law. Rather than attempt to restrict personal travel to affected areas, employers may wish to ask that all employees who do so advise their supervisors accordingly so that appropriate measures may be taken, if necessary.
Employers should discuss with employees the possibility that the employee may be asked to self-quarantine upon return from an affected area, even if the employee is asymptomatic.
The information provided on this website is meant to provide general information and does not constitute as legal/ medical advice. For more information, visit the CDC website.